August 29, 2011
In our era of customization, mainstream fashion is still mostly a one-shape-fits-all experience. Aubrie Pagano wasn’t that shape, so she decided to craft a solution for young women like her: Zoora.
“What we’re doing is creating a mass customized site,” says Pagano, who cofounded Zoora earlier this year. “We are personalizing dresses and occasion wear for women.”
Zoora combines the snug fit of tailored clothing, as do Bonobos and My True Fit, with the independent designers and unique styles found on Etsy. Fashion-frustrated women can log on to Zoora and enter their style – like boho, sporty, edgy, or glam – and their favorite brands. Zoora’s algorithm matches you with dresses and occasion wear, and you can choose custom colors, fabrics, hemlines, or detailing. One of Pagano’s favorite pieces is an Emily Muller silk and lace shift dress, with “flirty” ruching.
“Zoora” comes from the Italian word “misura,” or measure, which is exactly what their customers do to get custom-fit styles. If the thought of wrapping measuring tape around your hips is terrifying, Zoora will also let you send in your best-fitting garment for measurement or browse a list of local tailors. Returns are accepted within twenty days, and the clothes don’t cost “an arm and a leg,” Pagano assures me.
She started the site after tirelessly searching for an outfit for a family wedding. Discouraged by all the ill-fitting prospects, she began shopping online for tailored dresses but still came up empty. Pagano, who has worked as a designer’s apprentice, eventually decided to make the dress herself, with the help of a Boston designer.
Lauching in beta in a few weeks, Zoora will start by offering styles by small designers, including some up-and-coming designers featured in September’s Boston Fashion Week. They hope to partner with larger brands as well, although it may take some effort to sell them on the benefits of customization.
“The fashion industry can be very cagey and very old-school. Young designers are a breath of fresh air to talk to and so eager to connect to customers,” says Pagano. These young designers get an opportunity to promote their brand on Zoora, in exchange for 15% of sales.
I spoke with Pagano over the weekend, as the wind from Hurricane Irene was howling outside my window, and she was excited about the future of the industry.
“With the economy and the market going haywire, and earthquakes and hurricanes, it’s nice to see that there’s still a lot of artistic new talent coming out,” she says.
To learn more about Zoora, or grill them about the upcoming spring collections, stop by to meet the team at Tech Cocktail’s Boston mixer this Thursday.
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